300-year-old mummified mermaid mystery stuns scientists
A 300-year-old “mermaid mummy” is being probed by Japanese scientists in an attempt to unravel the mystery of its existence.
The creature is 30 centimetres tall and features a human-like head, an eerie expression and two hands with what appear to be fingernails.
However, its lower body resembles a fish tail.
According to a note kept in the same box as the “dried mermaid”, it was caught in a fishing net off the coast of the island of Shikoku between 1736 and 1741, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports.
A family purchased the creature before passing it down to another.
“The fishermen who caught it did not know it was a mermaid, but took it to Osaka and sold it as unusual fish. My ancestors bought it and kept it as a family treasure,” the letter reads, according to the New York Post.
About 40 years ago it was put on display in a temple in Asakuchi. How it acquired the remains is unknown.
In an effort to determine its exact origins, the mummified object has been sent to the veterinary hospital of Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts for a CT scan.
Footage of the moment shows the mummy, which appears to be locked in a scream, laying on the examination table with its hairy head and scaley bottom on full display.
It is the first time the creature has been scientifically examined. The results are expected to be published later this year.
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Hiroshi Kinoshita, 54, of the Okayama Folklore Society, created the project while studying a natural historian who researched supernatural creatures.
According to legend, mermaid mummies are objects of worship and are said to predict infectious diseases, Mr Kinoshita said, the New York Post reports.
“Japanese mermaids have a legend of immortality,” he said.
“It is said that if you eat the flesh of a mermaid, you will never die.
“There is a legend in many parts of Japan that a woman accidentally ate the flesh of a mermaid and lived for 800 years.”
Kozen Kuida, chief priest of the temple where the mummy is kept, told Asahi Shimbun he has been worshipping it, “hoping that it would help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic even if only slightly”.
“I hope the research project can leave records for future generations.”
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